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Champions League Final

by Ben, last updated 2006-05-14 22:53:18

 Nigels Picks

 by Nigel Ridgeway

BACK GUNNERS AT 11/4 FOR CHAMPION PROFIT...
Arsenal v Barcelona - Wednesday May 17th, 7.45pm (UK time) ko, live on ITV 1 / Sky Sports 1 After 124 matches and 246 days of competition it's all come down to one match to decide who'll be crowned champions of Europe. For many, it's the dream final, and an intriguing match between the team that's scored the most goals against the team that's been the most defensively efficient. Something's got to give, and bet365 expect the attacking force of Barcelona to prevail over the rock-solid defence of Arsenal, by making the Catalans favourite to lift the trophy outright at 1/2 (Arsenal 6/4).

It's difficult to argue with that decision as the Spanish giants have been in imperious form throughout the competition, and are yet to taste defeat in their 12 matches. In Ronaldinho (11/2 to score first) they have an outstanding talent whose ball control is amazing, while Samuel Eto (7/2), can be regarded as one of the most dangerous strikers in Europe. They certainly have the armoury to worry any defence, even one as strong as Arsenal's, and they're worthy favourites at Evens with bet365 to win the game in 90 minutes, but Arsenal look by far the better value at a tasty 11/4.

This may be Arsenal's first Champions League final (Barca's fourth), but they've come through every challenge so far and have showed many of the qualities that Liverpool showed last year. They're also unbeaten in their 12 matches, including wins over their opponent's Spanish rivals Real Madrid and Villarreal, and have put together an incredible run of 10 clean sheets (919 minutes of football!) - a Champions League record (5/2 to keep a clean sheet in Paris). That run should give them the confidence to absorb Barca's goal-scoring threat and hit back with quick breaks of their own in the hope that the Spaniard's Achilles heel is their defence.

And one goal might be enough, as it was in the semi-final against Villarreal, and that makes the bet365 odds of 8/1 on a 1-0 win look attractive. Alternatively, a bet on the Draw / Arsenal Double Result at 6/1 could pay dividends (4/1 Draw / Barca). As with all Cup finals, both sides will be playing with a degree of caution leading up to the interval, so (whichever side you fancy) it makes sense to include the half time draw in all such bets.

Not forgetting the amazing Thierry Henry, a five-time scorer in the competition already, and looking to score his 50th European goal (in the 50th final) in his home city. When he is given the chance to run at goal there is normally only one outcome, and he's 5/1 with bet365 to open the scoring in Paris, which is even better value when you consider that the firm will give you cash back if he scores the last goal in the game instead. That concession could be even more significant in what is likely to be a low-scoring game (1/2 Under 2.5 Goals).

Of course, even bigger odds might be available once the match kicks off (7.45pm UK time) via bet365's Live In-Play Console - up to 14 cracking markets available. It's worth remembering that Boro were as big as 25/1 in both of their UEFA Cup comeback wins, so if Arsenal take a lead it might be worth checking the odds on Barcelona to cover your pre-match bet - or vice versa!

Bet with bet365




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